Forget you demon undergr.., p.1
Forget You (Demon Underground Series), page 1
Table of Contents
Praise for the Demon Underground series
Other books by Parker Blue
Praise for the Demon Underground series
“Love, betrayal, vampires, and a mystery. How much better can it get than that?”
—That Teen Can Blog
“. . . fast paced, exciting storylines . . . The ending took me by surprise; I can’t wait for the fourth book to come out!”
—C.J. Harris, Vampire Librarian
“. . . big, shocking and intense.”
—Lara Taylor, Fresh Fiction
Other books by Parker Blue
DEMON UNDERGROUND SERIES
Dare Me (coming 2013)
Demon Underground Series
A Shade Short Story
Bell Bridge Books
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead), events or locations is entirely coincidental.
Bell Bridge Books
PO BOX 300921
Memphis, TN 38130
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-61194-279-8
Bell Bridge Books is an Imprint of BelleBooks, Inc.
Copyright © 2013 by Pam McCutcheon writing as Parker Blue
Dare Me (excerpt) copyright © 2013 by Pam McCutcheon writing as Parker Blue
Printed and bound in the United States of America.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.
We at BelleBooks enjoy hearing from readers.
Visit our websites – www.BelleBooks.com and www.BellBridgeBooks.com.
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Cover design: Debra Dixon
Interior design: Hank Smith
Hood & background (manipulated) © Curaphotography | Dreamstime.com
Face © Elena Rostunova | Dreamstime.com
This story takes place five years before the events in Bite Me, the first book in the Demon Underground series.
SHAWN SAT HIDDEN in the shadows inside his adobe home and glared outside at the relentlessly sunny day, hating how it kept him trapped inside. Here, in the desert of New Mexico where people believed in aliens and UFOs, and the brotherhood of Penitentes still practiced their self-flagellation ecstasies in secret, he was considered weird.
The land of enchantment? Maybe for other people. Other teens. For him . . . not so much. The nice day kept him inside, for fear someone might pass by, even out here in the boonies, and catch a glimpse of the freakish demon boy. Welcome to another episode of As the World Spurns, he thought bitterly. Out loud, he muttered, “Being part shadow demon sucks.”
Shawn said it more to lash out at his father than because it was true. When he got no reaction, he said it again, louder. Why did his father have to have children, anyway? Why couldn’t Shawn have been born to fully human parents?
His father turned away from working on the computer and asked, “What’s the problem now?”
Shawn’s twin sister, Sharra, came over to rub his shoulders, trying to soothe him. “It’s okay, Dad, he’s just restless.” Then, whispering so only Shawn could hear, she said, “What’s wrong with you lately? You act as though you have a burr up your butt all the time. Come on, remember your promise. Don’t get mad at Dad—don’t let him get mad at you. Take it out on me instead.”
Shawn shook his head mutely. It was a stupid promise, even if she did make him pinky swear. How could he take it out on her? Sharra was the only good thing in his life.
Louder, Sharra said, “Come play a game with me.”
He glanced at her and scowled. His blond sister’s pretty features were hidden by the curse of the shadow demon. Everywhere there should have been skin, all you could see were swirling energy ribbons of golden light. Unfortunately, he matched her, but the ribbons whirling through him weren’t so pretty. They looked more like giant worms, dark and grey, endlessly moving through his skin. That’s what came of being a shadow demon, existing partly in this dimension, partly in others.
The only time they didn’t look like members of a freak show was when they were touching another living being—another non-shadow demon, anyway. That grounded them in this world, making them look and feel fully human. But it hadn’t happened since Mom had deserted them, three years ago. Apparently, she couldn’t take living with children who looked like monsters anymore. Who could blame her?
“No thanks, I’m not in the mood for games.” Shawn knew he sounded sulky, but he didn’t care.
“Come on,” she wheedled. “Let’s play Grand Theft Auto.”
“Why? So I can beat the crap out of you again?”
“Don’t be so sure about that, Shadow Boy. I’ve got moves you haven’t seen yet.”
“Big talk for a loser, Sunshine Girl.” Though his father’s dumb nicknames usually cheered him up, he wasn’t in any mood to be teased into a good humor. Not even by his sister, his best friend, and the better half of their Dynamic Duo. Shawn asked, “Don’t you ever get sick of this? Don’t you ever wish we could have normal lives, like every other sixteen-year-old on the planet?”
She shrugged. “Of course, but it’s not like we can change what we are. What good does it do to complain?”
“So sorry your own existence inconveniences you,” his father said. Dark worms swirled through his features, too, so Shawn and Sharra couldn’t gauge his feelings by facial expressions. Instead, they’d gotten very good at learning to judge his moods by the tone of his voice. For example, now, his voice was filled with sarcasm, with just a hint of anger.
Sounding horrified, Sharra protested, “I didn’t mean it that way.”
Of course she didn’t. Sharra was the good twin. Shawn was the bad one, the one who always got into trouble. The Dynamic Duo usually balanced each other out—he made Sharra more bold, and she smoothed his rough edges. But not this time.
“I did,” Shawn said. “I hate living trapped in this house. How come everyone else can live a normal life, and we have to live like . . . like . . . lepers?” It was bad enough dealing with a cracking voice and a changing body. But when puberty hit, life had turned to crap. He and his sister had started looking like Dad, their awareness constantly moving through other dimensions. It was weird, having strange images and feelings flicker through him from other realities. He still hadn’t gotten used to it, though Dad said he would, eventually.
“Don’t exaggerate,” his father said. “Why don’t you talk to some of your online friends?”
The computer was their only real link to the outside world. Through it, their father made a living doing research, and they ordered food, clothing, all the necessities of life. Shawn wanted to work with his father on the computer, to help bring in some cash, but his father wouldn’t even let him do that, insisting that he be a kid as long as possible.
Shawn shook his head. “My friends aren’t home.” Sometimes, when he was online, chatting with friends he’d never be able to meet, Shawn could pretend he was as normal as everyone else. But today, that false sense of normality didn’t hack it.
“You know why,” his father said, his tone warning Shawn not to push it.
Shawn didn’t care. “Yeah, but there’s a Demon Underground there.”
“I wish I’d never told you about that. As I said before, it’s not for us.”
“Why not?” Shawn persisted. “At least we’d be around others like us, instead of stuck here in Nowhere, New Mexico.”
“No one else is like us.” His father’s voice had turned curt.
“Maybe not exactly like us, but they’re all part demon, right? We could fit in better, maybe have something resembling a real life.”
“No.” This time, he sounded uncompromising.
But Shawn couldn’t leave it alone. “No? Just . . . no?” he asked incredulously. “How about an explanation for once, Dad?”
“Don’t, Shawn,” Sharra whispered. “You promised.”
Shawn had never broken a promise to his sister before, but this time he shrugged her off. Sharra was too nice, always trying to make peace between the two of them. Well, he didn’t want peace.
“Shadow Boy, you’re—” his father began.
“Don’t call me that,” Shawn yelled. He wasn’t a baby anymore, to be cajoled by a stupid nickname. Shawn didn’t want to be calmed down. He wanted an explanation. He wanted change.
Dad turned to Sharra. “Sunshine Girl, maybe you can talk some sense into him.” His words were calm, but his tone of voice showed he was trying not to lose it.
“Why should she?” Shawn demanded. “She feels the same way I do. She’s just too nice to say it.”
“Calm down,” Sharra said, shaking his shoulder. “Remember, Dad said it’s not good to get angry. You’re swirling faster.”
Her attempt to soothe him ticked him off more. Damn it, even without a face, his emotions were on display for everyone to see. He shrugged her off. “I can’t help it. Don’t you hate this as much as I do?”
“Of course, dummy. But what good does it do to get ticked off? It just makes everything worse.”
“How can it get worse? It won’t change how we look. It won’t bring Mom back.” Shawn glared at his father, pissed off even more because his father couldn’t see Shawn’s expression and know how much he hated him at this moment. “Why’d you have children anyway when you knew they’d be freaks like you?”
Sounding like he was trying to rein in his anger, Dad said, “Your mother wanted you.”
Shawn snorted in disbelief. “Oh yeah, she wanted us so much that she left as soon as we started changing and looking like a freak show.”
“You know she loved you,” Dad protested.
He’d heard that before, but actions spoke a whole hell of a lot louder than words. “Oh, yeah? Then why hasn’t she come back? She can’t even stand to look at us.”
His father stood, then paced as if trying to control his temper. “That’s her issue, not yours. You and your sister have to be strong to survive in this world.”
“I’m tired of it,” Shawn practically yelled. “Don’t you get that? I’m tired of watching the world through the television and the Internet. I want to experience it first-hand like everyone else. Why can’t we?”
“Damn it, you know why.”
“Please, stop, both of you,” Sharra begged.
Shawn ignored her. “Yeah, but we wouldn’t be monsters in the Demon Underground,” he said, trying to sound reasonable. “Why can’t we at least try it out?”
“I have my reasons.”
“I don’t like how they’re run,” his father bit out.
“So you condemn us to a life of eternal boredom?”
“Stop it,” Dad said, almost yelling now. “You have no idea what the world is like, how cruel it can be.”
“How can we ever learn if you keep us trapped here?” Shawn spat back. As soon as he turned eighteen, he was so out of here.
“Shawn, stop it now,” Sharra said, grabbing his arm. “You shouldn’t get so angry.”
“You know why.”
Yeah, their father insisted that anger made them lose control of the inter-dimensional energies. But Dad never said why that was bad. He mouthed vague warnings about something awful happening, then kept them constantly drilling, cycling through the dimensions to identify each one by how it felt, showing them which dimensions would allow them to pull different abilities to use. Too bad they never got to actually practice using those abilities.
“I don’t care,” Shawn said, pulling roughly away from his sister. “He’s always warning us about some mythical, horrible thing that will happen, but it never does. Maybe he’s lying to keep us quiet.”
His father took a step toward him. “You fool, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
His sister grabbed his arm again. “Shawn, stop it. Can’t you see what’s happening?” She pointed to the space between him and his father where a bilious green cloud had formed.
“So what? A fluffy green cloud? Big whoop.” He turned back to his father. “You say I don’t know what I’m talking about? So tell me.”
The green cloud grew larger. “You don’t want to see me angry,” his father warned, though it sounded like he was already way past that.
“Who do you think you are? The hulk?”
“Don’t start with me, young man,” his father bellowed as lightning flashed in the depths of the cloud.
Shocked, Shawn gulped and took a step back. Maybe he’d gone too far.
Sharra flew to their father, throwing her arms around him. “Daddy, don’t. Please, calm down.”
Their father took a deep, shuddering breath and the lightning disappeared. Thank heavens. Maybe—
The door suddenly burst open and a large man stood there, his tanned bald head gleaming in the sunlight. He wore jeans and a dusty leather jacket.
Dad shoved Sharra behind him to protect her, and the man thrust an open hand at Dad, then turned his palm sharply as if he were swatting something. Dad flew through the air and slammed up against the wall.
What the . . . ? The guy hadn’t even touched Dad.
“Shut it down, now,” Baldy said. He gestured with his other hand and the door slammed shut behind him. “I saw the green glow from outside. Thanks for making it easy to find you.”
Fear and shock spiked through Shawn. No one ever came into their home, especially not uninvited. And never anyone with powers like these. He must be some kind of demon.
The anger boiling in Shawn’s stomach turned sour, wretched.
Sharra ran to their father again, whispering reassurances, calming him as only she could. As the green cloud faded and shrank, Baldy lowered his hand, and Dad was no longer pinned to the wall.
Something moved at Baldy’s feet, and for the first time, Shawn realized he’d brought a dog in with him—an ugly bulldog mix who surprisingly didn’t seem at all phased by facing three shadow demons.
WHO YOU CALLING UGLY? a gruff voice said in his head. YOU EVER TAKE A GANDER IN THE MIRROR, BUB?
What? Where had that thought come from?
The dog growled. FROM ME. AIN’T YOU EVER HEARD OF HELLHOUNDS?
The dog talked? Weirdly, his gravelly voice made him sound like he should have a cigar stuck in his mouth and a crumpled fedora on his head. Uh, no, Shawn thought at him. I’ve never heard of hellhounds.
WELL, NOW YOU HAVE, PAL, AND YOU BETTER ACT REAL NICE ’CAUSE YOUR PAPA HERE COULD BE IN REAL TROUBLE.
What the hell was going on?
Sharra asked the question for him. “What’s going on, Dad? Who is this guy?”
“He’s a filthy Paladin,” their father spat out. “The Underground’s executioner.”
“Executioner?” Shawn repeated, his voice cracking. Fear pounded through him again, making him light-headed and sick to his stomach. Was th
“Protector,” the man corrected their father. “The Paladin is the protector of the Demon Underground, son. They call me Diesel, and this here is Max.”
Diesel . . . like Vin Diesel? And that was supposed to make him feel better?
CHILL, Max told him. HIS REAL NAME IS HADLEY AND THAT JUST DOESN’T INSPIRE THE KIND OF RESPECT A PALADIN NEEDS TO DO HIS JOB, Y’KNOW.
Like Shawn even knew what a Paladin did.
Diesel continued, “I know you kids haven’t had much contact with the Demon Underground, but we’re all part demon there, descendants of full demons. With each successive generation, the demon side gets weaker, the human stronger. We strive to blend in, to help others like ourselves, live normal lives.”
“Yeah, we know,” Sharra said. “Dad told us all that.”
“Did he also tell you that part of our job is also to ensure no other full demons come into this world?”
“No,” Shawn said, wishing like hell he could see his father’s expression. “So what?”
His father interrupted. “Shawn, Sharra, I’ll handle this. Go to your rooms.”
No, his father was not going to treat them like little kids. “I’m staying,” Shawn said belligerently.
“Me, too,” Sharra said, coming to stand by his side. She was just as nosy as he was but usually more polite about it. And way more stubborn.
THE KIDS DON’T KNOW, Max said.
Don’t know what? Shawn asked the hellhound, but it was obvious Max was talking to Diesel.
Diesel nodded at Max, then said, “Let them stay. Isn’t it about time they learned the truth?”
Dad collapsed into a chair and put his head in his hands. “I didn’t want them to know, ever.”
His father sounded defeated. Sad, even. It scared the hell out of Shawn. Sharra, too, from the way she was clutching his hand so hard it hurt like hell. Maybe he didn’t want to know. Can I take it all back?
by Parker Blue have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes